Lakey explores the theological significance of the rituals of Baptism and the Lord's Supper in Pauline theology, with particular attention focused on the discussion of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:17ff. When they occur, explorations of ritual in Paul tend to operate according to a 'social world' form of comparison with ritual in other communities in antiquity. By contrast, this study focuses primarily upon the function these rituals perform in relation to Paul's theology and ethics. The primary analytical lenses are taken from social scientific studies of ritual, and in particular from Clifford Geertz's analysis of symbols.
Lakey builds upon Geertz's insight by showing how, for Paul, Baptism and the Lord's Supper facilitate specific connections between his metaphysics on the one hand, and the form or pattern of life he enjoins upon his churches on the other. The investigation considers what, given his theological and ethical premises, Paul's underlying beliefs regarding these ritual events may have been, thereby setting the scene for a preliminary discussion of specific lines of post-interpretation in the early Patristic period.